December 30 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:02 AM ET, Thu December 31, 2020
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8:19 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

Several shipments of Moderna vaccine replaced due to improper temperature storage, group says

From CNN's Jessica Firger

Several shipments of Moderna Covid-19 vaccines were delayed before the Christmas holiday due to "temperature excursions," meaning they had been refrigerated inappropriately while in transit, according to the Texas Hospital Association.

Leadership reported the issue immediately, Carrie Williams of the Texas Hospital Association said. The federal government shipped replacement vaccines.  

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Moderna vaccine should arrive onsite frozen between -25°C (-13°F) and -15°C (5°F) and stored at the same temperatures. Once vaccines are thawed, they must be kept between 2°C (36°F) and 8°C (46°F) and only for up to 30 days. 

The CDC also provides strict and specific handling guidance for Moderna vaccines.

CNN is still learning about the incident from the CDC, the Texas state health authorities and the shipping company.

7:38 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

US hits record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

The United States reported 125,220 current Covid-19 hospitalizations on Wednesday, setting a new record high since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project (CTP).

This is the 29th consecutive day that the US has remained above 100,000 current hospitalizations. 

According to CTP data, the highest hospitalization numbers are:

  • Dec. 30: 125,220 people hospitalized
  • Dec. 29: 124,686 people hospitalized 
  • Dec. 28: 121,235 people hospitalized
  • Dec. 24: 120,151 people hospitalized
  • Dec. 23: 119,463 people hospitalized
7:17 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

Texas reports Covid-19 hospitalization record for third day in a row

From CNN's Kay Jones

A medical staff member sets up a ventilator for a patient in the Covid-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center on December 29 in Houston, Texas.
A medical staff member sets up a ventilator for a patient in the Covid-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center on December 29 in Houston, Texas. Go Nakamura/Getty Images

Texas has reported a record number of hospitalizations for the third day in a row. 

The Texas Department of State Health Services shows that 11,992 patients are currently hospitalized with Covid-19, up from Tuesday's record of 11,775.

The state has also reported 17,458 new positive cases and 326 deaths related to the virus on Wednesday. 

Note: These numbers were released by the Texas Department of Health Services and may not line up exactly in real-time with CNN's database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

6:50 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

Los Angeles County surpasses 10,000 Covid-19 deaths

From CNN's Sarah Moon

Los Angeles County reported 274 new fatalities related to coronavirus, surpassing a total of 10,000 deaths, health officials confirmed in a news conference on Wednesday.

The county broke its previous record of 227 deaths on Tuesday. 

“The terrible reality is that the average number of people dying each day from Covid-19 illness, as noted by Supervisor Solis, is about 150 people a day,” L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said.

Ferrer also noted that the high number is due to a backlog associated with an outage.

According to Ferrer, the number of people dying from the virus is as high as the average number of people dying each day from every other cause, which is about 170 people.

Mortuaries across the county are filling up and they are struggling to find space for Covid victims, Department of Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said.

More data: The daily positivity rate in the county is about 20% and over 7,000 people are hospitalized, Ferrer said.

While the new Covid-19 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, has not been reported in Los Angeles County, she said, “this doesn’t mean the variant is not circulating in L.A. County.”

She explained that the variant was not found in the first set of samples that were tested.

To date, the county has a total of 756,116 coronavirus cases and 10,056 deaths.

6:33 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

If Covid-19 vaccination picks up, US could return to normal life by early fall 2021, Fauci says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

A pharmacist prepares to administer a Covid-19 vaccine to staff and residents at a senior living community in Falls Church, Virginia, on December 30.
A pharmacist prepares to administer a Covid-19 vaccine to staff and residents at a senior living community in Falls Church, Virginia, on December 30. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

If the US is able to “diligently vaccinate” people in 2021, the nation could return to normal life by early fall, Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview with California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday.

Although Covid-19 vaccine rollout is off to a slower start than expected, if the US is able to “catch up” in 2021, widespread vaccination could be possible beginning in April, Fauci said.

“Let's say in April, it will be what I call “open season,” namely, anybody who wants to get vaccinated can get vaccinated,” Fauci said. “If we then diligently vaccinate people in April, May, June, July, then we will gradually and noticeably get a degree of protection approaching herd immunity.”

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that herd immunity against coronavirus could likely be achieved if about 70% to 85% of the population gets vaccinated. 

“By the time we get to the early fall, we will have enough good herd immunity to be able to really get back to some strong semblance of normality – schools, theaters, sports events, restaurants,” he said. “I believe if we do it correctly, we will be there by the early fall.”

Fauci urged people to get vaccinated.

5:58 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

Washington governor extends statewide Covid-19 restrictions

From CNN's Raja Razek

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced a one-week extension of the state's Covid-19 restrictions, according to a news release by the governor's office. 

"Gov. Jay Inslee today announced a one-week extension of the 'Stay Safe–Stay Healthy' proclamation, along with the statewide restrictions imposed. The extension of the statewide restrictions will now expire on Jan. 11, 2021. No changes were made in the proclamation aside from the expiration date," the release said.

The release added: "An updated reopening plan is currently being developed to provide a pathway for businesses and workers impacted by this order to reopen safely. The updated plan will be released next week." 

5:52 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

Immune response from vaccine "very likely" to protect you from new Covid-19 variant, Fauci says

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks before receiving his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health on December 22 in Bethesda, Maryland.
Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks before receiving his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health on December 22 in Bethesda, Maryland. Patrick Semansky/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Covid-19 vaccines should be effective against the new UK virus variant, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday.

Fauci told California Gov. Gavin Newsom that Covid-19 vaccines will likely protect against the new variant, which has now been identified in California and Colorado. The variant appears to be more transmissible but not more deadly.

“When you get vaccinated, the immune response that you make is called polyclonal, which means it's against many different parts of the virus,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Even though you have one part of the virus that's changed, it is very likely that the other components of the vaccine induced response will protect you.” 

However, something to keep an eye on is how monoclonal antibodies will work against this new strain. 

“Since these are specific mutations, we want to make sure that they don't evade the protection of certain of the monoclonal antibodies, because the monoclonal antibody is against a very specific component of the virus,” he said.

“The other thing that they've noted in the UK, is that people who have been infected don't seem to get reinfected by this, which means that the immunity that's given to you when you get infected is protective against this particular strain,” he added.

Fauci said the new strain does not appear to have any impact on diagnostics. He noted that the National Institutes of Health, along with other scientists in the US, are working to learn more about the new strain using isolates from the UK.

5:45 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

UK Covid-19 variant confirmed in San Diego, California

From CNN's Alexandra Meeks

The new Covid-19 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, has been detected in a Covid-19 patient in San Diego, California, county supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced Wednesday during a news conference. 

"About an hour ago, the governor in a joint appearance with Dr. Anthony Fauci confirmed that a UK variant case had been detected in the state of California and I can confirm that that case is in fact a patient in San Diego," Fletcher said.

Fletcher said the patient is a 30-year-old man with no travel history that started developing Covid-related symptoms on Dec. 27. 

4:41 p.m. ET, December 30, 2020

CDC's ensemble forecast projects up to 424,000 total US Covid-19 deaths by Jan. 23

From CNN's Amanda Sealy

An ensemble forecast published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects there will be 383,000 to 424,000 coronavirus deaths in the US by Jan. 23.

Unlike some individual models, the CDC’s ensemble forecast only offers projections a few weeks into the future. The previous ensemble forecast, published Dec. 23, projected up to 419,000 coronavirus deaths by Jan. 16.

At least 340,956 people have already died from Covid-19 in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.